Photo: Press (Israel Vines)
Israel Vines has been active as a DJ but has only started to make a name for himself as a producer throughout the past decade. His unique style draws on electro and the legacy of Detroit techno, however his debut album And Now We Know Nothing, released through Interdimensional Transmissions’ Eye Teeth like many of his previous EPs last fall, also integrated influences from the bass-heavy end of the hardcore continuum. Having just released a career-spanning mix to close the first chapter of his story so far, Vines’s mix for the Groove podcast is dedicated to hypnotic percussion.
First off, how have you been doing this past year?
Thanks for asking – that’s a loaded question, isn’t it? It’s been a trying year, obviously, but my wife and I both have our jobs and our health so I’d be pretty selfish to complain. With the amount of suffering happening everywhere right now, I feel extremely fortunate. Mind the fact that you asked how “I” have been doing, so that excuses me from making any statements about the rest of the world. Thanks for that. We’d run out of space if I started down that path of commentary.
After almost a decade of releasing music, you finally put out your debut album, And Now We Know Nothing, in November last year. How did you approach writing an entire album as opposed to producing EPs?
I always said that I’d never do an album, and then I got it in my head that I should because I thought that I couldn’t. I had been working on a handful of tunes with no set purpose in mind, and as I continued to work I noticed a certain continuity building, so I ran with it. What was important for me was to have a group of songs with stylistic variation that still contained a common thread in terms of tone and palette. The sequencing was important to me as well. I wanted it to build and contract from beginning to end, which isn’t always a consideration when writing songs for an EP.
Stylistically, the nine tracks take their cues from UK bass and British renditions of techno music. What’s your relationship with these styles as a music listener?
My hope is that the album reflects several of my influences, but yes – it’s a hard fact that for the last ten years or so I’ve been following the post-dubstep and UK bass world much more than any other in terms of dance music. I’m not sure that the album necessarily falls into that category, but the influence is there as much as the influence of Detroit techno and electro are. It’s always a balance trying to honour your influences without copying them directly, but I think that’s the place from which individual style is born.
Your contribution to Mysteries of the Deep’s third and final compilation highlights yet another side of you as a producer: it’s a rather dark slice of ambient music with noise elements. How did you produce that track, what idea was behind it?
Mysteries of the Deep is a special world and I love what Grant has done with the entire project, so I felt both honored and challenged to be a part of this compilation series. I’ve made a few tracks in the past that would be considered ambient or experimental in nature, but they were typically pretty short and less structured – more ornamental pieces to round out an EP or the album. I wanted this track to be a bit more ambitious and complete than that – more of a song rather than an accent or interlude, as it were. As I often do, I started with a few samples that I’d been wanting to use and built things out from there.
You’ve recently released the two-hour long Catalog Mix, a set that includes your entire discography so far, including remixes by other artists. How did you approach making that mix?
That was a fun project. I knew that I didn’t want to include every single track in its entirety, so some of them were stripped down to individual stems that were sprinkled throughout the mix, and in other cases I played whole songs. I wanted to keep it up front and energetic while also highlighting some of the more hypnotic or melodic aspects of the catalog. And now it’s a time capsule.
In the liner notes, you write that you are “considering this mix as an end to the beginning of (your) work as a recording artist” and “the closure of (your) first decade of producing music.” Does that mean that you’d like to change course musically?
I’m not going to change course entirely, but yes – I get the distinct feeling that that are some new things on the horizon for me in terms of my production.
Until February 14th, all proceeds will go to The Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles and the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit. Why did you want to donate the money and why to these two projects in particular?
The level of homelessness we have in the U.S. is both staggering and criminal, and I wanted to do whatever small part I could to help. I chose the DWC in L.A. because I am familiar with their work, and I also wanted to show love to my Detroit roots, so Erika picked the Ruth Ellis Center there.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
I wanted to highlight some (mostly) newer material that I’ve been feeling as of late, and I also wanted to focus on music that I could play at a faster BPM without it sounding as frenetic or banging as it would if I were playing harder techno at the same speed. The main focus was on hypnotic percussion.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
I plan on learning new things and getting more skilled at doing the things I already know how to do. I plan on becoming a stronger and more present person than I am today.
Stream: Israel Vines – Groove Podcast 286
01. Dreyciya – Unknown Journey III (Clone Classic Cuts)
02. Rrose – Open Cell (Eaux)
03. Natural/Electronic.System. – Pegaso (Midgar)
04. Zemi 17 – Rangda (Partrick Russell Remix) (The Bunker New York)
05. ??? – Unreleased
06. Pessimist – Pagans (Osiris Music UK)
07. Elemnt – Square #3 (Hidden Hawaii)
08. Forest Drive West – Invisible (Delsin Mantis Series)
09. De Leon – 08 (/\\Aught)
10. Bambounou – Tour (Whities)
11. Zenker Brothers – Divided Society (Ilian Tape)
12. Al Wootton – Snake Dance (Livity Sound)
13. Løt.te – Eavesdropping Guoanbu Agent (AI-F)
14. Laksa – T’s Tent (Hessle Audio)
15. Adriana Lopez – Acta (Modularz)
16. Farron – Contaship – (Shaw Cuts)
17. Konduku – Orbu (Nous’klaer Audio)
18. Azu Tiwaline feat. Cinna Peyghamy – Tight Wind (Livity Sound)
19. Aleksi Perälä – FI3AC2032010 (Self released, Bandcamp)
20. Masma Dream World – Becoming The Magician (Northern Spy Records)
21. Talker – My Favorite Color Is Gold (Standards & Practices)